Thursday, December 4, 2008

How to Spot a Bad Apple

My last post inspired me to think about the issue of the thirty-plus wedding planners here in Jacksonville. With all that competition, what's a bride to do? Who's trustworthy and who's not?

With that in mind, we came up with our top five tips for How to Spot a Bad Apple -- that is, who's running a legitimate business and who might not be?

Tip # 1: The planner has no website. In today's technological world, not having a website is like broadcasting "I'm stuck in the eighties!" It could also mean the planner is brand new and has not invested the appropriate funds to begin running a legitimate business. (This goes for other vendors, too -- I rarely even consider a caterer, photographer, etc. for my brides that does not have a website.)

Tip # 2: The planner's "portfolio" showcases "borrowed" or stock images. This one can be trickier to spot. Being familiar with your favorite designer's "looks" can help you spot when other planners have "borrowed" their images, marketing those images as their own. If you'd like to verify that a planner's images are from her own events, ask her questions about the images (albeit in non-threatening manner.) Ask questions like, "What venue was this wedding held in?" "Who was the florist for this wedding?" While they're not going to want to give away their entire vendor list, a legitimate business will be using photos of their own events and will be able to speak knowledgeably about those events.

Tip # 3: There's no specific "about us" info on their website. While this initially may not seem like a big deal, it begs the question -- why isn't this information there? No one wants to talk to a faceless company. We want to know that there is a living, breathing person running this company, we want to know their name, and we want to feel comfortable with that person. A photo is a plus.

Tip # 4: The planner is not a member of any professional organizations. While obviously not a requirement, by joining a professional organization, the planner is showing that they are committed to excellence and high standards. The Association of Bridal Consultants is an excellent place to start.

Tip # 5: A search through city records turns up zero mention of the company. Anyone running a business in Jacksonville (or anywhere for that matter) is required to go through the necessary steps to be considered a legal business entity. If you'd like to check through a list of Jacksonville businesses, there is a search engine here. Just type in the business's name, and the website will show you any records of that company.

Of course it goes without saying that no "research" beats an in-person consultation, in which you can form your own opinions about the person or company and your comfort level with them and their services. But if you're trying to avoid having 30 sit-down consultations, weeding out the "bad apples" using some of these methods is a good place to start!

Planners in other areas -- is your area full of bad apples? How do you deal with this?

Brides -- other ways you searched for reputable vendors? Let us know!!

1 comment:

Amy said...

What a great post. So informative and very helpful!

Love your blog! So many great tips all in one place.